Use of certified seeds can increase potatoes production: Dutch expert

ISLAMABAD: Potato consumption has grown significantly in Pakistan over the last one decade. Still, more than 99% of farmers grow potatoes from non-certified seeds, renowned Dutch expert on food security, Romke Wustman says.

In his special lecture on ‘Food Security and Need for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in Crop Production,’ organized jointly by Sustainable Development Policy Institute and the Embassy of Netherlands, he said ensuring uses of technology at all stages of production, which includes storage as well, can improve economic benefit to farmers and other stakeholders.  Charge d’ Affairs, Embassy of the Netherlands Renate Pors was also present at the occasion.

Romke Wustman said market oriented production based on stakeholder’s wishes gives feedback to breeders and researchers.  This leads to good agricultural practices, which needs specific demands from processes and retailers. Choosing the right variety, which is resistant to disease and other attacks and using minimum amount of fertilizer and herbicides is the key maintaining Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).

He said soil borne pest are controlled by developing crop rotation system. Developing Potato cysts resistant varieties backed by decision support system can have good impact.

Wustman said use of Nitrogen fertilizer can be rationalized by using modern technology like GPS. He maintained that minimum lethal dose of herbicides should be used for weed control.

Decision support system (DSS) is instrumental in bringing about success.  Measuring temperature, humidity rainfall, radiation and characteristics of wind are also important.

Post harvest storage facility and breeding for the next cycle complete the chain.

Ms. Renate Pors, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Netherlands, explained the context of the public diplomacy initiative and the Netherlands commitment to food security. She said that the Netherlands had high agricultural productivity and expertise in associated technologies and solutions which they were sharing with Pakistan through these seminars.

Renate Pors, said food security is one of the main challenges that world is facing today. Every five seconds, a baby dies of malnutrition. She said well-nourished people help in developing societies. Netherlands is a small country, but focuses on food security. It is one of the biggest food exporters at the global level. She said it is part of their diplomatic activity to spread scientific work done in Netherlands, on food security, which this lecture will contribute to.

In a country like Pakistan, achieving food security is possible only, through intensive and sustainable food production.

The agricultural sector sustains the livelihoods of 45% of Pakistan’s population, according to FAO. Potato, the fourth most important crop by volume of production, has become an increasingly important crop for both farmers and consumers in Pakistan.  It gives high return to farmers. Research is being done on how to increase use of certified seeds for potato production.

INP

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